NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2003
by Brian Jacobs, CAUG
Author of PC Fear Factor: The Ultimate PC Disaster Prevention Guide
(click to email author)

This month's subject is the trials and tribulations of doing simple things with a Windows computer.

My wife wanted some pictures off our web site to send to her grandfather, who doesn't own a PC. Seemed a simple enough request. Since I produce the web site on my "Purple Haze" Win NT box, I thought I would use it, without thinking about the problems this might engender. It was easy enough to bring up Dreamweaver and then copy the pictures over to Word. There I discovered that you are extremely limited as to where the pictures would be placed, leaving enough room for text explanations of each picture.

No problem, I thought, I'll just fire up MS Publisher and then place the pictures where I wanted them, leaving text boxes for position holders. Thought I might even show my wife how to use Publisher to type in the text, rather than write it out by hand after printing. Of course, when I went to browse for the pictures, I get an error message from Publisher to the effect that this part of Publisher is broke - - did I want to repair it. Sure, why not. Went through my CD's to find the install disk for Office 2K, put it in and was then told that it was the wrong CD - please insert the proper disk. I think the name it is looking for is data2.msi while my CD insists the file is called Data2.msi. Did you see the difference? Took me a few tries, I'm slow, but one is in caps and one isn't. So no repair this time. And how Publisher screamed and threatened when I tried to not repair it, with dire warning of impending program failure if I didn't repair it Now!

So far so good, but now the problems mounted. I was going to browse for the Save as location, intending to put a copy on hard drive, then another on a floppy. It was only two pages and 10 pictures so the file shouldn't be too large. Wrong! Turns out the file is way too large for a floppy, even in zipped format. No prob, I'll just burn a CD. No, that won't work. I have an Iomega CD-RW that I got on special at CompUSA a few years back after being told by both Iomega and CompUSA that it would run under NT. Of course, it didn't. Runs fine under Win2K but not NT. Which meant breaking open the box, installing my Win2K drive, changing jumpers and slaving the NT drive and then burning the CD. Instead I decided to send the file email. Yahoo chocked twice on attaching the file, so I went to my ATT account. After waiting a long time for the file to attach here, I decided that the easy way to print this file was to crawl under my wife's desk and unplug the printer, attach it to Purple Haze and print it, then put it back on her machine.

After looking at what I would have to move to get the printer cable out from behind the desk and filing cabinet, I decided to just move over to her PC, using the backup CD of the web site. Discard the file on Purple Haze, end the internet connection and redo everything on her PC.

I am almost positive that next month's column will be the hoops I learned to jump through as I try to network several boxes, to prevent this type of problem in the future. Of course, I could buy another printer, but that would be too easy. And her printer works perfectly well for what little printing we do. Maybe go wireless network? Nah, too much money for wireless this soon after the holidays. Think I will get a 5 port hub, a few Cat 5 cables and a few LinkSys or 3Com 10/100 cards to install. Then I can have Purple Haze (Win NT), my Dell laptop (Win2K), my wife's PC (also Win2K) on my own mini network. I'll also install my Win2K HD in Purple Haze and make sure that connection also works. And I won a copy of Win XP Pro at the CAUG holiday party, so I think I'll find a spare HD and install XP on Purple Haze and network that. Humm. That means two network cards and drivers, three OS's, a mini-hub and my laptop. Should be a breeze... Go on, just shoot me now!

Brian is a roving PC technician with over 15 years of Help Desk experience. It has provided an income and an endless source of "dumb user" anecdotes to share with his wife at the dinner table.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using the article as long as it is kept in context, with proper credit given to the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an International organization to which this user group belongs.

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